For better or worse, Ada’s dreams took a turn towards the unpleasant. As she awoke, still spread eagle on the bed, wrists and ankles bound, she was feeling considerably less horny. Her dreams faded quickly but she was left with a lingering feeling of rejection.
Nothing like a light fog of shame to take the edge off in the morning. She was also quite sore.
She didn’t have to wait long before Pasco also stirred.
“How are you feeling?”
“Alright. A bit sore.”
Pasco looked a bit worried. “Maybe I shouldn’t have left you…”
“No,” Ada said. “It was very necessary. I’m alright now, though. We set out on your ship today, right?”
Pasco nodded. “First thing, so it’ll only be an hour or two before we’re out on the open sea.”
“Alright, I can handle that. You can untie me.”
Pasco cast her a wary look. “Can I?”
“Yeah, I’m fine now.”
“I dunno,” he said, “You were pretty ready to go on a murderous rampage last night.”
“You look like you wish you could haul me onto the ship still tied to this bed,” Ada said.
“Would you like that?” Pasco crooned.
A spark of arousal. Ada closed her eyes and sighed. “Yes, but we really shouldn’t talk like this. All business until we get out to sea.”
Pasco nodded. “All business.” He untied her and she worked the blood back into her tired muscles.
They rejoined the others on the main floor of the tavern, which was now empty and quiet, and then made their way down more rickety stairs and makeshift bridges to the docks.
Pasco’s ship looked absolutely royal. The sails were a brilliant blue, the decks were trimmed with railings carved into delicate swirls, and the maidenhead at the front had her chest high, her arms spread wide, and was totally naked. The ship’s name was painted on her flank in sweeping script. Wanderlust.
They climbed aboard and Pasco left Ada near the wheel of the ship, where she could see what was happening but stay relatively out of the way. Pasco was not just captain in name. As he barked firm orders at his crew and they dutifully obeyed, Ada felt herself swelling with pride and arousal.
Fortunately, her curiosity about the workings of the ship kept her attention. She watched the crew shuffle back and forth and traced the web of ropes that ran the whole ship. Well, her curiosity kept her attention until she imagined being caught up in those ropes herself, expertly tied by Pasco, him barking orders at her.
Ada gulped and tried to get a handle on herself. One more hour. She could do that, right? One more hour?
She wouldn’t have made it if Sendia hadn’t come over. Ada asked her question after question about the ship and its crew, and Sendia was happy to answer.
As the boat was about to push off, another sailor came over and beckoned to Sendia. The other woman stood, but Ada reached out and grabbed her hand. “Wait! Sendia I… I really need distracting.”
“Oh!” Sendia said. “I wondered why you were so interested in boats all of a sudden. Jack, can you cover for me? It’s very important, I swear.”
Jack eyed her suspiciously.
“Kraken eat me!” Sendia insisted. “I’m serious!”
Jack grumbled, but jogged back down the deck.
“Okay, so,” Sendia returned her attention to Ada, newly enthused. “The way that a capstan works is…”
As Sendia rattled on and on and on, Ada settled into the soothing sound of her voice. Ada’s attentions were able to turn more fully to the view in front of her as the boat set sail and the wind pulled it out onto the open sea.
Everything about the ocean was new and wonderful.
The endless expanse of blue.
The brilliantly intense sunlight.
The gently rolling waves interspersed with crowning dolphins, the smell of salt and algae, the seabirds drifting overhead with their wings spread wide.
Ada felt like one of those sea birds, floating along in unlimited blue. She realized that she no longer needed Sendia’s distraction, and instead she welcomed Sendia’s company. The pirate told Ada all about this stretch of coast, the striped sea cliffs which were nearly out of view, the island chain that they were traveling towards but could not yet see.
The ocean was everything that Ada had imagined and so much more. And though it was so new, it felt so… familiar. So right. She wondered if that was the dragon in her, since Pasco had mentioned that dragons tended to live out on the sea, nowadays. Or, perhaps it was Ada herself, who’d never quite felt at peace anywhere she couldn’t see the horizon.
Everything about the last week had been so new, and yet so right, that Ada worried that she might actually be in a dream. But did she really believe that her imagination was capable of conjuring up all this? Surely not.
And she was sure that this new life that she was hurtling into would not be all sunshine and blue skies. She had read about the terrible power of the sea, violent storms and rogue waves, windless skies and whirlpools. It had some dangerous inhabitants, which Sendia had alluded to — kraken and serpents and strange spirits.
And Ada could not be more excited for all of it. She was so happy to be on deck, so excited to take it all in, that even when Sendia had to get back to work and Pasco stopped to check on her, Ada assured him that she was quite content for the time being.
She stayed on deck, the wind in her hair and her mind drifting out over the waves, all the way until sunset. The cool blue sky turned hazy, then an orange tinge took over the horizon. The orange spread slowly upwards, reaching towards the sun. When they met, the sky ignited brilliant red, turning the ocean to crimson with it. The sun dripped down towards the endless waves of heat, slipping slowly inside.
As the last bit of the sun quivered then finally released, sinking down below the horizon, Ada realized that she was quite worked up again.
She’d also totally missed the bustle of activity behind her, where the deck had transformed from strictly business to a warm and lively feast. Dread pulsed in Ada’s stomach — or was it arousal? — as she realized that in watching the sunset, she had missed her own opportunity for release. She didn’t want to miss the party, after all.
Pasco noticed that Ada had finally surfaced from her reverie and came over to her then. “How are you doing?”
“Thirsty,” she said. She meant it both literally and sexually.
“Well, there’s ale and fresh water out now, help yourself.” There was a glint in his eyes that told Ada he’d caught her drift.
“Do you have parties every night?”
Pasco laughed. “Not quite, we do have to actually be productive.”
“‘Being productive’ here meaning, what, raiding other ships?”
“Some raiding,” Pasco said, “Some hunting for buried treasure, some keeping up diplomacies with the other pirates and ocean dwellers, some plundering, and so on. Never any raping though. Not sure what rumors make it up to land.”
“That’s good to hear,” Ada said. “If you don’t party every night, then what’s the occasion?”
“Well, to welcome our new guest, of course!”
Ada blushed, and not from arousal. Ada had been paraded around at parties plenty of times, and many of them had been in her honor. She’d enjoyed the attention, especially the sexual attention which always came after, when she drew in eager suitors with her honeyed words and they were all too happy to please her. Well, they were happy to please Her Majesty. Her Majesty was a character that Ada played, and it had not been unpleasant. It had allowed her to be everything that she was expected to be. Prim, proper, demure, and then greedy, demanding, inconsiderate.
As much fun as it had been, though, Her Majesty was still just a character. It had seemed that before, nobody in the world knew that underneath it all she was… just Ada.
But, Pasco knew. And Sendia and Missa and Teoda and Forte. None of them had asked her to be anything other than what she was.
A party for Ada, not for Her Majesty? She had no idea what to do. It all felt very… vulnerable.
Pasco seemed to notice her introspection. “I thought you might enjoy it,” he said softly, “but it’s okay if you don’t like it. I don’t want to put any undue pressure on you. It’s just that to me…” He tucked a piece of her hair back behind her ear. “You’re worth celebrating.”
A wave of emotion swelled within Ada and then broke on her shore, sending a soft stream of tears from her eyes. Pasco wiped her cheeks with his warm, calloused hand.
He gave her a moment. Unhurried, he said, “What do you think?”
“I love it,” she said with certainty. “There’s a lot to celebrate!”